Former legal secretary chooses “all-around ministry” as her retirement job

Meet Dawn Kemp – a woman with a mind for legal services and a heart for people. Dawn knew she wanted to get involved with a volunteer organization and, like fate, stumbled across StreetWise. She explains,

“I first heard about StreetWise last February. I was a new retiree looking for things to do, and I saw an email one day with a list of places to volunteer. As I went through the list, I noticed a food bank called StreetWise, read the synopsis and said, ‘Let me try that place and see what they do over there.’

I signed up to volunteer one day, and I’ve been here ever since!”

She shares her motivation for wanting to volunteer, saying,

“I always thought that if I volunteered, I would help somewhere involving children. StreetWise helps a lot of families, which in turn helps the children. That’s why I ended up here – because I see that we can do a lot to help people.”

What began as a volunteer opportunity soon became a part-time job for Dawn. She says,

“In the morning prayer time, Tracy had talked about expanding the staff, and they were looking to fill an admin position. Coming from 43 years of experience as a legal secretary, that sounded like something I could do, so I applied.”

“But they had something else in mind for me. Bonnie was retiring, and they wanted to split up her duties (volunteer coordinator and client services). So they turned them into two positions and asked if I would be interested in being a volunteer coordinator.”

Dawn accepted. She now handles many important aspects of what StreetWise does in ways that allow her legal expertise to shine. 

“I make sure our stations have enough volunteers, and I deal with a lot of community service people. I bring them in and have them fill out the applications,” she said.

 Through her role, Dawn sees these people fall in love with StreetWise just like she did.

“There’s one man who started as a community service volunteer, but now he’s a regular! There are a lot of folks who do that. There are a lot of people who want to help and do good.”

StreetWise’s attention to human needs was a drawing point when Dawn was seeking a place to volunteer. She enjoys the intentionality StreetWise prioritizes, saying,

“Some places just do food or clothing, but StreetWise does everything. They do food, clothing, spiritual healing, prayer… the whole thing. It’s an all-around ministry. Instead of just helping people to get back on their feet, we also let them know there’s someone who cares about them.”

The most rewarding part of her job at StreetWise?

“It’s very touching to see people’s faces when they see the amount of care they receive, and how appreciative they are of what StreetWise does; I’ve had people come in with tears in their eyes,” Dawn said. “That’s the part that moves me the most because I can tell people are genuinely appreciative. It just makes your heart feel good.”

A lot of what Dawn does for StreetWise is day-to-day work, but she also has long-term goals she’d love to see StreetWise meet.

“I would love to see StreetWise teach people how to cook – or even have people who will help them fill out a job application, create a resume or prepare for a job interview. That’s the big picture I see in expanding StreetWise; that we can help not just with food and clothing, but also in other areas that can help someone be successful,” she said.

Dawn encourages people to check out StreetWise for themselves. 

“What I would want people to know about StreetWise is that no matter what hesitation you may have about coming to StreetWise, you will be welcome with open arms!” she said.” Everyone’s life circumstances are different, but you will get a warm welcome – no one will be turned away. We are here to help you and to serve you.”